MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Rachel Harvey of St. Ignatius played every bit like a seasoned veteran, a reliable go-to, jack-of-all-trades point guard, and both coaches noticed. And for long stretches, she and her cohorts had a firm footing against Saint Francis, the Wednesday night WCAL opponent for the Wildcats.
Yet the Lancers had two spirited comeback runs, including one in the fourth. And while they made things interesting, St. Ignatius escaped with a 61-56 victory.
Harvey had 17 points, five steals, four assists, three rebounds, and even a blocked shot for St. Ignatius (13-3, 3-0 WCAL). Diary Khin added 13 points and seven boards, Jalene Gee chipped in 11 points off three treys, and Claire Untalan was instrumental in the fourth with all five of her points, six of her seven rebounds, and one of her three blocked shots. Angie McAdams, meanwhile, made a splash in the first and finished with eight points, five rebounds, and three assists.
“We had a really good contribution from the whole team,” Harvey remarked.
While seniors led the way for the Wildcats, a trio of sophomores paced Saint Francis (8-6, 0-2 WCAL). Sydney Stewart had a neat double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds, Natalija Grizelj scored 15 points – 12 of them from downtown – along with eight boards, and Jessica Oakland recorded eight points, seven rebounds, four steals, and three assists.
“The whole second half was defensive adjustments,” St. Ignatius coach Mike Mulkerrins said. “Sami did a hell of a job keeping her team up and getting back in the game.”
St. Ignatius got off to a 10-0 start and the Lancers trailed 20-9 as the second got underway. When Harvey sank a three-pointer while being fouled and falling to the ground to make it 36-25, all good things were going the Wildcats’ way. But after Oakland followed back-to-back three’s by Grizelj with a nifty underhand scoop layup that drew a very audible gasp from the crowd, the momentum had clearly swung to the Lancers. Harvey closed the quarter with a steal and assist that deflated just a bit of the home crowd’s enthusiasm.
“It’s frustrating for my team, because we have swings that are so magnificent, and then the downswings where we bury ourselves,” Saint Francis coach Sami Pompei said.
The Wildcats opened the third with a few big buckets and a 12-point cushion to start the fourth seemed fairly secure, but St. Francis stormed back again late. A block by the Wildcats’ Jacqueline Acosta proved key, and in the last two minutes the only field goal for either team in that span, a layup by Makayla Buenrostro, brought the Lancers to within three with just seconds to go. Harvey drew the intentional foul and calmly netted both foul shots to seal the win.
“I’m proud of the effort at the end,” Pompei added. “It was pretty magnificent. They showed me they had some heart left.” Referring to the tough WCAL, Pompei said “the battle is convincing them to keep their heads up and stay together” and making the players realize it’s “preparing them for something special in the end.”
Mulkerrins called Harvey a “great kid, great leader defensively, offensively, in the huddle, in the team room.”
“She’s the difference in the game,” agreed Pompei. “She controls everything. She’s so patient, so fluid.”